The administration at Quinnipiac, uncomfortable with some of the stories reported by their students in the campus newspaper, has taken a series of steps to gain closer control over the content of the paper. They have clearly indicated that they want student media to be independent of the university, but what this really means is unclear. In the nearer term, they established a task force with no faculty or student membership to set out a path for student media. Their plan, as it was recently articulated, was that the administration should hand-pick students to run the paper, putting a business student in the role of “publisher,” with control over editorial content.
The readers of this blog generally come from the fields of journalism or communication, and don’t need to be told just how stupid this looks to the outside world. Unfortunately, there remain those in the administration at Quinnipiac who not only refuse to acknowledge how much damage this incident has done to the reputation of the institution, they refuse to listen to their own faculty’s expert guidance on the matter. This week, the Faculty Senate voted unanimously that the administration should suspend any planned changes until a more appropriate plan could be assembled. The president responded with a letter decrying not the vote so much as the fact that it was made public. That the senate operates publicly seems to be lost on our president, who while otherwise very effective, has nonetheless put himself on the wrong side of an important issue, and decided to dig his heals in rather than work with Quinnipiac’s faculty and students to come up with a workable solution.
It is perhaps ironic that the best source of information on the issue has consistently been the Yale Daily News. In a recent article, they note that a large number of Chronicle staff have deserted the newspaper, and plan to strike forth with their own online newspaper. It’s a shame to see the Chronicle go. The credibility of our journalism program has already taken a hit, and continues to get bludgeoned by the tone-deaf policies of our administration. I only hope that the students make a good run of their venture, and that it serves them and our community well. I don’t know the students involved, but I publicly volunteer to assist them in any way I can be of help.
Now the question becomes whether the administration will move on to strangle our television and radio stations, as well. If we keep telling our best and brightest students that we don’t want them working under a Quinnipiac masthead, I suspect growing numbers of them will take the hint, and choose universities with real communities that nurture their students and involve them in decision-making.